Public Health Certificates To Navajos - 'Threat Of Extinction'
Contact: Lorraine Varela, (520) 626-5664
May 18, 2009
The UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (COPH) at The University of Arizona in Tucson and Diné College, a Navajo tribal college in Tsaile, Ariz., awarded the first Certificates in Public Health to nine Native American students during a May 7 commencement ceremony at Diné College.
These certificates mark an academic achievement that has been more than seven years in the making for both colleges. The nine students who received the Certificate in Public Health are all Community Health Representatives (CHRs) for the Navajo Nation.
Navajo Tribal Community Health Representatives (CHRs) are important health-care workers who live and work in the Navajo community and provide the tribe’s citizens with hands-on care and information on current medical topics and staying healthy.
As full-time, paid employees of the Navajo Nation government, CHRs help meet the need for increased basic health care and instruction in Native American homes and communities, greater involvement in their own tribes’ health programs and more participation by Native Americans in identifying and solving their health problems.
CHRs are a “widely recognized and widely appreciated personnel whose function is to get the health-care knowledge and education out into the community,” said Ed Garrison, MD, MPH, a faculty member at Diné College since 1983. Dr. Garrison’s academic background includes degrees in biology, anthropology and public health a combination he considers ideal for his work among the Navajo people. He also worked to establish the public health program at Diné College in 1998.
CHRs serve as professional health personnel who stay up-to-date on public health issues that affect the Navajo. For example, with the current swine flu cases spreading, Dr. Garrison pointed out that the CHRs are out in the Navajo community explaining the situation and teaching people how to protect themselves.
“CHRs are the first-line responders,” said Dr. Garrison, “whether it’s swine flu, a weather emergency or a forest fire. They are the ones out there in the community, knowing what is going on and what people are thinking and feeling.”
CHRs function as the “eyes and ears of the federal government, tribal health system and Navajo Nation,” educating the tribe about health care issues and communicating health care information from the tribal members to their government.
This new certification is a “stepping stone” for CHRs and shows that a CHR has taken the 12 college credits which cover the basics of public health. These college hours may be used later as the foundation for a two-year associate’s in public health degree or a four-year bachelor’s of science in public health degree from Diné College.
For CHRs already employed by the Navajo tribe, the federal government contract for their scope of work now has specified that they must complete the certification within a reasonable amount of time.
Credit hours ensure that all CHRs have the same knowledge base and that they all have successfully completed an overview of public health. These highly skilled community members and background first responders now will have the opportunity to integrate all their health-care experience into a public health perspective. This particular joint certification program specifically is tailored to the Navajo nation’s public health needs and concerns. Presenting this information in a culturally appropriate way is part of the work of CHRs in the community.
For more information about the Certificate in Public Health, visit the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health Web site at http://www.publichealth.arizona.edu/news/CHR_Certificate/or contact Lorraine Varela,(520) 626-5664, e-mail email@example.com
For more information about Diné College, visit the Web site www.dinecollege.edu/
For more information about Ed Garrison, MD, visit the Web site www.mcb.arizona.edu/careers/garrison.html
Jean Spinelli, Information Specialist Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs
Arizona Health Sciences Center at The University of Arizona
PO Box 245095
Tucson, AZ 85724-5095
cell ph: (520) 307-2639
fax: (520) 626-2101
'Status Indians' Face Threat Of Extinction
In some communities, last children with historic rights will be born as early as 2012
May 10, 2009
Submitted by Stephanie M. Schwartz
Nicholas Keung IMMIGRATION REPORTER
Leaning against a creamy white war monument on the 1,200-hectare Alderville First Nation reserve north of Cobourg, Wayne Beaver wonders how long his ancestors' land will remain in his people's hands.
They've survived decimation by disease and discrimination, but now Canada's native people are facing what Beaver calls "a legislated extinction of status Indians."
Statistics that show the self-identified aboriginal population is growing fast – a 45 per cent jump over 10 years to 1.2 million – can be deceiving, said Beaver. Under Canadian law, those who "count" are "status Indians" – a group strictly defined by the Indian Act.
Many First Nations communities will die out within a few generations, in terms of registered Indians. That's because the "two-generation cut-off" created when the Indian Act was revised in 1985 stipulates only children born of two Indian status parents inherit status. Because of intermarriage, some communities will see their last status Indian born as soon as 2012.
"Status matters, because all our funding is tied to how many status Indians we have in our nation," said Beaver, 69, whose 1,000-member community expects to see its last status Indians born in 2032.
"What happens to the land when there is no more (status) Indians? The reserve would be returned to ... the federal government. Eventually, we will lose our land and everything that we call ours now."
Bill C-31 was passed in response to a formal censure by the United Nations, which decried the old law's practice of discriminating against Indian women: Women lost their status when they married a non-status person. Men did not.
But instead of opening the doors to the non-status partners of aboriginal women – a move that would have hugely increased Ottawa's financial obligations – the amendments ensured that men and women suffered equal losses.
The new law extended Indian status and its accompanying rights, benefits and services – such as tax immunity, health benefits and reserve housing – to just one more generation by creating two classes of "status Indians": the 6(1) Indian who has two status parents, and the 6(2), who was born in a union of a status person with a non-status person. If a 6(2) marries a non-status spouse, their children are deemed to be non-status.
The result, warns Six Nations Chief Bill Montour, could be "the biggest land grab of the century."
Last May, the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council, which represents 47,000 people from 42 nations, appointed Jeannette Corbiere Lavell as its first citizenship commissioner to help establish and define the Nation's own form of citizenship and issue its own citizenship cards, among other things.
"I can think of no other issue as crucial for our future or as fundamental to our Nation as citizenship," Grand Council Chief John Beaucage said at the time. " It is not my (government-issued) status card that tells me I am Anishinabe. The legacy of my forefathers, and my connections with my family, my community and my nation, tell me who I am."
Corbiere Lavell, 66, lost her status as a citizen of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian reserve when she married David Lavell in 1970. Three years later, she led a Supreme Court challenge of the status determination system, but it failed.
At a recent community consultation in Toronto, Corbiere Lavell showed photos of her children and grandchildren to illustrate how the system divides her own family. "Three of my five grandchildren do not have legal rights to be members of my community," she said.
Since 2001, the Assembly of First Nations has passed five resolutions calling on Ottawa to recognize the authority of First Nations to determine citizenship and status. In 2005, it signed an accord with Ottawa for the recognition and implementation of First Nation governments; it includes issues concerning First Nations identity.
Meanwhile, individuals affected by the two-generation cut-off are suing. In April, in the case of Sharon McIvor and her son Charles Grismer, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled the Indian Act violates the Charter of Rights and ordered Ottawa to amend the act within a year. The government has 60 days to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Kelly LaRocca, of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation has followed the citizenship issue closely. The 33-year-old lawyer, a registered "6(2)" Indian with a native mother and an Italian father, is married to a non-status man. Her future children won't have status.
"My mom married my dad and lost her status (before 1985). It made some of the community members view her differently. She lost her rights. She was not entitled to hold property on the reserve and sometimes treated as an outsider.
"I don't like that prospect for my future children. ...
"However ... my mother was Anishinabe-qwe (woman) and she raised me in an Anishinabe way. I, too, will raise my future children as Anishinabe people.”
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